Entertainment on the Bus

You may think that riding public transportation is boring. Well, not in Montevideo or Buenos Aires.

Here in Montevideo, people are allowed on the bus, free of charge, if they are trying to raise money for a cause, trying to sell something, or offer some kind of entertainment.

The most common causes for trying to raise money seem to be religious, but every so often a group holds a fundraising event throughout the entire city. For example, a couple weekends ago, a group very similar to Habitat for Humanity did a fundraising event. They had hundreds of people out in the city, on street corners, on the buses, and in the squares asking for donations.

People also try to sell just about everything on buses. We have seen people selling socks, pens and pencils, and stickers. I have even seen someone get on a bus selling candy. He had a piece of cardboard about 3x3ft that had every kind of candy imaginable attached to it. It took him almost 5 min to list out all the different types he had. A common technique of people selling things on buses is to walk down the aisle placing their wares in the laps of the passengers, then pick them up on the way back to the front of the bus hoping that someone wants to buy something. Sometimes this can be a little disconcerting, but from our experience, completely harmless.

The best entertainment on the bus is when someone gets on that actually wants to entertain the crowd. This will include musicians, magicians, and comedians. The people of Montevideo seem to reward the hard work of these entertainers and rarely do they leave the buses empty-handed. Some of these entertainers are very talented and they make the bus ride much better than if they were not present. The best show that we have seen occurred on the Buenos Aires subway. A magician got in and proceeded to do a variety of magic tricks with scarves, cards, and making things disappear and reappear. It was a very well done magic show and lasted for almost 15 minutes. He definitely deserved the bundle of change that he was rewarded with.

Every couple of weeks we encounter people playing the guitar and singing on the bus. Some are better than others, but none of them (so far) have really sucked. Matt was rewarded with probably the best singer/guitar player that we’ve heard on the bus on the last day he was here.

Savage Tournament in Buenos Aires

The three of us went to Buenos Aires last weekend for another frisbee tournament. It was a savage 7 tournament which means that each team is only allowed to have 7 players, and for those of you that don’t know, there are only 7 players on the field at a time (i.e. everyone is playing all the time, there are no subs).

The tournament was at the Universidad de Buenos Aires which had nice fields and a great sports complex, complete with tennis courts, basketball courts, handball courts, locker rooms, and cafe.

Matt and Asa put together a team that included a bunch of Buenos Aires all-stars. I’d say it turned out pretty well considering they won the tournament.

I went along for the ride and to be team photographer. We had a great time. Here are some pictures of the boys doing what they do best!

Buenos Aires Public Transportation

This past weekend we found ourselves in Buenos Aires again. There was a small ultimate tournament there that Matt and Asa both played in. Asa and I booked a hotel in the downtown area of Buenos Aires because we didn’t know the field location until two days before the tournament. Luckily for us, the public transportation in Buenos Aires is very extensive and includes buses, subways, and trains.

Buenos Aires is full of buses and anyone can take them for a small fee of about $0.25 US, and they go everywhere in the city. The following are a couple of problems with taking the bus.

1. Figuring out which bus to take. There are more than 100 different bus routes throughout the city. Luckily there is a nice website that can be used to find the correct route, that is, once you figure out how to use the website!

2. Finding change. There is a coin shortage in Argentina and the buses only take change. Stores will ask repeatedly if you have correct change and will sneer at you when you don’t. There are several card payment systems that have been installed in all realms of public transport in the last 5 years. On our last visit we obtained a SUBE card which helped us on our way.

3. If you’re in a hurry, forget it. Take a taxi! Traffic can be really bad in the city and the buses take forever.

The subway in Buenos Aires is fairly easy to take, but it is sometimes very crowded, only goes to certain locations, and can be a mecca for thieves who work together to target tourists. When my parents visited us in Buenos Aires their camera got stolen on the subway, despite being very vigilant.

Knowing these things, we decided that we would investigate train options this time around. We took the train the last time we were in the city and thought it was nice. Upon investigation, we discovered that there are not one, but three different train lines servicing parts of the city. Only one of these lines is included in the website (above) that shows the bus routes. We found the line that stopped near our destination and could get there and back for about $0.30 US each. Trains left every 15 minutes all day long and we could arrive at our destination in 11 minutes. The equivalent bus ride would have taken upwards of 45 minutes.

The train station at our destination

The three train stations are next to each other. Lining the streets outside the stations are vendors selling everything from donuts to alarm clocks to shoes. Beyond the vendors, in the street, is one of the most extensive bus stops I have ever seen. There were more than 5 lanes that buses could enter, which each had approximately 20 stops arranged adjacent to each other. It took up almost two whole blocks.

Only a small portion of the bus stop. Each covered area is the stop for a different bus line.

Here’s to public transportation making our lives easier and relatively hassle free!

 

Espiritu Sudaka 2012 Tournament – Video

Just a quick post for anyone wanting to see a bit more from the ultimate tournament we attended recently in Buenos Aires. This is a little film put together by one of the girls on our team. Enjoy!

Update: We’ve been told this video doesn’t work in the US due to copyright from the audio. Anyone else, enjoy!

An Asado and Fireworks on a Birthday Cake

The easiest way to sum up the night of the Asado: rain, alcohol, darts, slippery floor, firework candle, grilled meat, fun time!

When we meet people and they find out we are vacationing in Uruguay, there is always a list of items they ask if we have done yet. Depending on the person, it might be culture related, nature related, clubbing related, or something based on there interested. In general though, there are 2-3 things that always come up no matter what the person likes to do.

The three main things that people ask us if we’ve done yet are:

  1. Tried maté
  2. Eaten a chivito
  3. Had an asado
We have tried maté. We even bought everything to enjoy maté. We also bought ceramic maté’s to drink tea out of.

We LOVE Chivitos!

When we ask people about asados, they say it’s a very fun thing to do and it’s important we go to one. That sounds great to me!

Then, I ask what it is. I always get a similar response about cooking meat on a grill, having a get-together, and drinking beer.

My response is: “So, it sounds like grilling out at a barbecue? I like those. Count me in.” …But, it’s not like what I’m used to. When I describe an afternoon barbecue, they all say it’s way more important and extensive. It’s a special way of cooking, a celebration of something, and a get-together.

So an asado isn’t like grilling steaks on a grill at the house… After attending an Asado, here are the main differences I noticed:

  1. The meat is cooked over the coals of wood and not directly over the fire. Nicer Parrillas (grills) have a separate section to burn the wood
  2. You can raise and lower the meat as needed (raise to add and move coals around and lower to cook directly above the coals)
  3. It’s meant for get-togethers of people and not just grilling out with a friend.
  4. There is a large variety of meat. Different cuts of meat from sausage, steak, ribs, and other cuts that I didn’t know what they were, but tasted great.

I was invited to an Asado when I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the Ultimate Frisbee team that I was going to play with on Sunday.

The asado was a blast and more like a party. We had beer, wine, snacks, music playing, people sitting around talking, and darts. We played five person darts where everyone throws with their off-hand to get their number, then needs to hit their number three times to get three points before they can be a killer. If you’re a killer, every number you hit takes a point off of their score. If you hit your own number, you remove a point from your score. When you reach a negative number, you’re out of the game. When you are under 3 points, every number you hit adds a point to the score. The goal is to eliminate the other players.

Buenos Aires Asado with Darts

It was fun since it was raining so when it wasn’t my turn, I would be hiding under cover, but when it was my turn, I’d run outside, throw the darts and try not to slip and fall with the darts in my hand, and then throw the darts. A couple of times, people almost fell, which added a couple seconds of excitement to the situation.

The Asado grill (Parrilla) and meat

There is a special part of the grill that is only used to burn the wood. The coals fall down and you carefully spread them under the meat.

Here’s a picture of Maxi working with the wood on the left, while the meat cooks over the coals on the right.

Maxi creating some coals to cook on

The cooking lasted for about 2-3 hours while wood was continuously burning to create coals and meat was slowly cooking. Maxi would lower the meat as much as possible on the coals, then raise it when more coal was ready to put under the meat.

Maxi and the Asado Parilla

Iron Chef Maxi says, "Let's eat!"

Once there were enough coals and the first batch of meat was ready, everyone stopped playing darts and sat down around tables while Maxi brought food out in batches, letting some of the meat cook a little longer.

Maxi would grab a bite to eat, run out to move stuff around, and bring in the meat if it was ready.  Each piece of meat tasted really good. The ribs, chorizo sausage, steak, and some other cut of meat for asados were all good.

We all had a great time talking about different subjects, happenings, etc. Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand when everyone is talking very quickly, but in general, I could pick up conversation and occasionally contribute.

I was able to chat a good amount about American Football and the Falcons so that was fun.

Fernando’s Birthday!

Fernando’s birthday was also on the same day as the asado. It was perfect timing!

After we were finishing eating and almost too stuffed to eat more, Fernando brought out two desserts for his birthday. One with dulce de leche layer in a thin cake and cheese cake with strawberries.

A large candle was used in the center of the cheese cake with strawberries. I thought it was an abnormally large candle.  It wasn’t just a candle, in fact, once lit, it shot a stream of sparks straight up about a foot higher than the cake. What a surprise! I didn’t expect it at all.

Fernando's Birthday in Buenos Aires

Pre birthday candle ignition

Sparkler on cake in Buenos Aires

Birthday Candle on Steroids

The funniest part of the night happened right after the firework display started. I’m sitting to the right of the camera in the picture with the sparks shooting up. Fernando is sitting in the gray shirt with green sleeves.

He goes to blow the large candle out, as anyone would do with their cake, and the sparks started to come my way. Instead of everyone around me jumping back, 3-4 people jumped in front of me, like they were the secret service diving to take a bullet for the President,  to shield me from the sparks. It was extremely funny and made for some hilarious conversation for the next 30 minutes.

I hope there is a picture or video of it!

The asado was a really fun event despite the rain. I really appreciate being invited and having a great time with the group from Disco Sur. I also really enjoyed playing Ultimate Frisbee with them on Sunday in their league games in Argentina.

To Disco Sur, thanks for letting me play with you guys Sunday. It was a lot of fun.

To Maxi, thanks for my first asado and everything else!

To Fernando, thanks for not killing me on your birthday with fireworks and thanks for the great hospitality!

A collection of travel experiences

After the tournament, Randi and I took a trip with her parents to Iguazu Falls. We took a taxi straight from the fields to the airport.  After Randi prompted the driver, I had a great conversation with him for the 30 minute ride to the airport. We talked about everything from Ultimate, to the global recession’s affect on the US, to the area we were driving through and the history of it. It turned out he was a long distance cyclist; he competed in a number of century races. As we approached the airport, he also told us that the entire area the airport is on was filled in from the river. It was a really interesting cab ride and a great start to the trip!

After getting to the airport, we checked in quickly and got through security line very quickly. Security here was about like pre-9/11 levels in the US. It was nice to be in a place where people aren’t subject to so much Security Theatre. When we boarded the plane there were no boarding zones everyone just makes lines up and files in. Since there’s no charge for checking a bag you don’t find people battling for overhead compartments with their overstuffed bags. Although we boarded about 10 minutes before departure, everyone was comfortably seated and we pulled back from the gate right on time. Randi and I slept through the whole trip but apparently for the quick 1:45 minute flight they handed out little meal boxes with a sandwich and some snacks. The flight on the way back from Iguazu, connected in Buenos Aires on the way to Montevideo. Most of the travel was a very similar experience with the quick, efficient security lines and boarding.

We had one little hiccup on the way home. We got in the wrong security line in Buenos Aires. A little explanation is due. There are two airports in Buenos Aires and we flew through the small one, serving mostly regional flights. There are 14 gates with one line for 1-12 and another for 13-14. There’s no signage that we saw saying what the difference is and flights don’t get gate assignments until they are close to boarding. So, when we saw a long line for 1-12 we just followed the crowd. That’s also the line we went through on the way to Iguazu so it was familiar if quite a bit longer. Even with over 150 people ahead of us in line (Dick counted), it only took about 15 minutes to make it to the front. Once there, the ticket checker let us know that since we were taking an international flight we would be leaving out of 13-14. Oops. There was absolutely no line through customs on the other side of the airport and Buquebus had already filled out our exit paperwork so Randi and I quickly made it through the checkpoint. Followed closely by her parents, we navigated the duty free shop and waited for the last leg of our journey. Again the plane boarded in about 10 minutes with very empty overhead bins. When we touched down in Montevideo, I had an unexpected sensation of arriving home. I guess I’m beginning to settle in here.

TIMEBOMB! La Bomba De Tiempo

To me, traveling isn’t about seeing the super touristy stuff and leaving. It’s about experiencing the culture, meeting people, and having great adventures.

As part of my time in Buenos Aires, I was trying to find fun things to do that aren’t super touristy. I’m not a fan of going to look at a building, taking a picture, and then walking to the next one (it doesn’t mean I haven’t done that, but it doesn’t really excite me).

As I was looking for fun things to experience, a friend told me about this party/concert/rave every monday night with drums that was called “La Bomba de Tiempo” which means, Timebomb. Since I’m a drummer at heart and I love good rhythm and a funky beat, I thought it would be awesome and decided to do.

It was at this place called Konex. They play every Monday, but sometimes they play indoors and sometimes they play outdoors.

We went with a group from Couch Surfing that Matias, a local guys who plays Ultimate Frisbee puts together. We went to the meet up spot across the street and waited. Slowly, about 10 people showed up from Couch Surfing. They were from Brazil, USA, Columbia, Australia, New Zealand, England and Argentina. When enough people showed up, we went inside. Tickets were $50 Argentina Pesos each (about US$12).

Once you were in, you can show them your ticket stub and get a pass for next week to be 50% off in case you want to go again.

The show started with some really cool solos and group drumming instructed by a few different people. About 30 minutes into the show, they invited two guitarists onto stage and played a lot of awesome rhythms behind the guitars and vocals. They started getting the crowd jumping around. Some songs, the crowd would chill out, stay planted and just sway side to side. Some songs would be so full of energy that the crowd would end up jumping up and down, clapping to the beat, and dancing around.

La Bomba de Tiempo Drummers

They look a little like Mario on stage in red and black outfits.

There were three distinct segments of the crowd:

  • The back. This is where the people were standing around drinking and socializing more than paying attention to the music
  • The front right (looking at the stage). This is where people were really only paying attention to the music, but a little too scared to let loose, jump around, and dance.
  • The front left (looking at the stage). This is where the party animals went. The people wanting to let loose, jump around, maybe form a mosh-pit, and go a little crazy. Just like any rock concert, this is where the crazies and the fun is at.

So where did we go?  We started at the front right and inched towards the front left. Near the very end, I made my way into the mosh-pit after being warned to guard my wallet and cell phone in my pockets…

 
 
Here comes the rant…

This seems like a normal thing in Buenos Aires. Nothing is safe. The general idea is that everyone, everywhere is trying to steal stuff from you. I’m all for being smart about where I am, how I dress, and what people see I have, but I couldn’t live in fear everyday. If you have a backpack on, you wear it in front of you. Not because it’s better for your back (is it?), but because people are going to open it and take your stuff in under 2 seconds.

You don’t speak english out loud at night when you’re not in large groups (it’s not so bad since there are a lot of tourists and expats in Buenos Aires). When you are out in public, you’re constantly observing everyone around you the whole time because you’re scared someone is watching you, waiting for you to let your guard down.

The whole time I was in Buenos Aires, people were trying to be nice and warn me, but it was always “watch your stuff”, “are you trying to stand out?”, “don’t walk near them”, etc…

Thanks for the advice, maybe I’ll just stay away from Buenos Aires and go somewhere else like Bali or the Philippines.

A lot of people say it’s not as bad everyone makes it out to seem, but I know two people that were robbed the week while I was in Buenos Aires. One on the subway and one in the busy streets at night.

I know there are problems everywhere, but even in Columbia, friends said the main cities there are safer than the main city of Buenos Aires.

…okok, I’m ending my rant about Buenos Aires. Back to the drums!

 
 

So, I worked my way towards the front left. Small steps turned into larger steps, larger steps turned into dancing with the people around me, and the dancing turned into jumping. Jumping/dancing, whatever you want to call it with cute girls from London and New Zealand.  The show was da bomb! Literally.

Here’s a video clip someone else took of them. I don’t feel like it does it justice because if they took this video on the night I went, most of the crowd in front of them would be going crazy.


 
 
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For more of Buenos Aires, check out Randi’s posts around the city: Walkabout Buenos Aires and Wandering Alone in a Huge City.
 

Ultimate Tournament Espíritu Sudaka

We were in Buenos Aires a week and a half ago for the biggest ultimate frisbee tournament of the year in this part of the country. Asa and I met the rest of the team at a hostel in the center of the city shortly after they arrived on wednesday afternoon. It was an awesome hostel; close to all the major tourist attractions in the downtown area, they served breakfast, and always had hot water for the showers. They were also able to fit all of us into two rooms!

The tournament itself was held at Parque Sarmiento on the west side of the city and about an hour travel from our hostel via either a subway and bus ride or a train and walking.

The tournament schedule was as follows:

The tournament schedule had clinics on thursday designed to help players with their throwing and defensive skills. It was run by some of the organizers of the tournament. There was also a clinic designed to discuss spirit of the game. They discussed things like interpretation of the rules and how to deal with disagreements on the field in a sportsman-like manner. A much greater focus is placed on spirit of the game and camaraderie here than in the United States, although it still forms the foundation for the sport in the states.

Thursday ended with two showcase games; one women’s and the other men’s. The women’s showcase game was played between the first (and only) women’s team from Buenos Aires (formed last August) and the rest of the girls from the tournament. This gave the Buenos Aires team a chance to play together and start figuring out how to work as a team. The men’s showcase game was between the Argentinian men’s team and 2-3 all-stars from each of the other teams. The Argentinian team will be attending World’s this summer in Japan. I played in the women’s game and Asa, Juanma, Cabra, and Juan Diego played in the men’s game.

Friday and Saturday were pool play days. There was one pool of 5 teams and one pool of 4 teams. The team from Colombia had some travel troubles and had to stay home at the last minute, hence 9 teams instead of the planned 10. We drew a spot in the pool of 5 and had to play Brazzinga (the top team from Brazil) in our first game. It took us a bit to figure out what we were doing and managed to keep the score fairly close. It was a hard game to have first and we ended up losing.

Our second game of the day was against the Cadillacs, a team from Beunos Aires. We worked together really well, with everyone getting good play time and we won. This was the first game that Cimarrón has won as a team!!!

Saturday started out with a game again Del Rial, or the mustachios. They all had drawn on mustaches and were giving gifts of stick-on mustaches. This was a hard game to have first in the day. They had picked up a couple of the Columbian players that happened to make it to the tournament. They were young and fast and moved the disc really well. We tightened things up a bit and made some strategy adjustments and won Cimarrón’s second game!!

Our second Saturday game was against a team from Chile. We rotated everyone through the lines and tried a little zone. Cimarrón won it’s third game!!! This was enough to put us second in our pool and in a cross-over quarterfinals game against the Bahía Blanca team. This team consisted of people from Monte Hermoso where Matt went to play the beach tournament in February, so he knew most of them. The game was a bit rough with calls and was more aggressive than any of our previous games. We stuck with it and Cimarrón won it’s fourth game!!

That put us into the semifinals Sunday morning against Big Red, Buenos Aires’ best team and the team that had won the tournament last year. We came out ready to go. We started playing a zone defense with two ladies in the cup and were able to shut down their offense for a bit. We were down for most of the game and brought the score back to 10-10 with us on defense. We threw our zone and got a turn. Asa sent a deep shot to Juanma who was wide open. Juanma ran toward the back of the endzone and tried to “toe” the line, but to no avail. We set our zone again, but Big Red managed to work the disc all the way back up the field and score. Cimarrón lost the semifinals by one point.

We still had the third place game to play against Sol, the other Brazillian team, but we had worn ourselves out playing Big Red. Cimarrón lost the 3/4 game, racking in a fourth place showing at the tournament.

Cimarrón’s end record was 4 wins and 3 losses, a remarkable tournament for the team and all of it’s players! Other players and teams continually commented on the improvement in Cimarrón’s players and team strategy from last year’s tournament. There was also a general excitement that Uruguay was building it’s ultimate program and actively seeking ways to improve and participate in the region.

Cimarrón also managed to get some awards at the end of the day: Asa won male MVP for the tournament and Randi won Defensor Feminino.

Thanks needs to be given to the organizers of the tournament for a great show. Also, thanks to all of you on the blog who have been with us from the beginning, providing financial and emotional support for the team here in Uruguay. The tournament was a great culmination of two months of hard work and there’s no doubt that Cimarrón will continue to improve and participate in future regional events! Thanks again!

Exploring Buenos Aires

We had another full day of exploring Buenos Aires together. The first thing we decided was that we weren’t really interested in figuring out how to take the bus or the subway yet and that we’d rather walk.

So we set off with the goal of going to the MALBA, Museo de Arte Latinamericano de Buenos Aires, which is suppose to have art from all of Latin America from 1945 – present. We walked down Avenida del Libertador which is lined by numerous green spaces and tourist destinations.

Our first stop was the Plaza Naciones Unidas which is park containing a very large metal sculpture of a flower standing 75 ft high called Flores Genérica. The flower was designed and donated by artist Eduardo Catalano. The flower opens and closes mechanically each day, mimicking a real flower opening and closing with the sun. It was quite stunning!

Our second stop was the MALBA. Their collection of Latin American art could be described generally as modern art. They had some cool pieces including: a wooden bench whose ends curved up and around and down the wall, a set of moving malleable metal circles whose shadows made intriguing designs on the wall, some painted metal figures, a seascape whose bottom portion was a functioning fish tank, and a work with large prisms.

Other sections of the museum were filled with special exhibits. One called “Bye Bye American Pie” which documented an American view of war in the U.S. (including the war on poverty, drugs, welfare, abroad, etc…) through the pieces of 6 U.S. artists. The other was an exhibit of work by León Ferrari depicting an odd mix of religious artwork with erotic and war based images superimposed. Both of these exhibits had warnings stating that children under 18 should be accompanied by an adult. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen such an odd mix of art under one roof before.

Nothing was planned after that so we just started to wander. We found ourselves playing on some exercise equipment in a park and wandering through a mesh of street vendors near the Cultural Center of Buenos Aires. They were selling everything from leather book coverings to jewelry, to maté paraphernalia, to clothes, to artwork. It was all very beautiful.

By the time we navigated all the little booths we found ourselves at the entrance to Recoleta Cemetery, the main cemetery in the city. It is filled with mausoleums, both old and new, made up of concrete and marble and any building material in between, and in various states of disrepair. The mausoleums usually had ornate iron doors with glass to protect the shrines inside. All the shrines were different, but most had some kind of religious ikon and decoration. Below these would sit the actual coffins or small urns. Each mausoleum had a staircase leading below-ground. I couldn’t figure out if this was for more storage, as each mausoleum could be for an entire family or set of families, or if it was for drainage purposes. We wandered around for a while, enjoying the relative quiet in comparison to the rest of the bustling city.

In front of the Recoleta Cemetery and the Cultural Center in the park is a magnificent tree. Its branches stretch out  about 50 m in every direction and are supported by large beams that keep them up off the ground. A fence of about 15-20 m in diameter surrounded the trunk. It was incredible, but alas no picture. You’ll just have to use your imaginations!

On the way back to our hotel we stopped by a grocery store and picked up some sandwiches which we later consumed in our hotel room as a reward for our new discoveries!

Walkabout: Buenos Aires Edition

Sorry for the delay in blog entries. We’ve been traveling! Yay!

When Asa and I arrived in Buenos Aires it was a beautiful sunny day. The boat ride was really pleasant despite all the children running around. When we disembarked, our first order of business was to get “the picture” of the boat. We thankfully bypassed the lines of people waiting for bags and headed straight out the door. We wandered around the corner and instead of seeing the perfect shot of the boat, we came face to face with a three-masted tall ship docked in the harbor, the frigate Libertidad. It was open for tours, but we had all our stuff with us so decided not to partake. We got the best picture of our Buquebus boat that we could and headed toward the hotel.

As luck would have it, the street that the Buquebus terminal is on was one of the cross streets for our hotel. All we had to do was walk about 8 blocks and we were there, the Dazzler Tower Maipu. We walked in and told them we had a reservation. We managed to conduct the entire check-in process in Spanish and understood just about everything we were told. Success!

The room was just like any other room in any other decent hotel and had all the amenities. We were on the fifth floor, which was a little unfortunate because we already know the floor numbers up to five. We were hoping that the elevator could teach us the words “sixth”, “seventh”, “eighth”, etc… Oh well! Can’t say that the view was spectacular, but what can one expect in a city full of tall buildings stained by years of pollution.

Anyway, we dropped our stuff and headed out to explore the city. Out first stop was the obelisk. It looked like a mini Washington monument surrounded by a sea of cars. It is positioned in the middle of one of the largest roads in the world, Avenida 9 de Julio which has 24 lanes. All this we determined in subsequent days, because at our first look on Saturday afternoon the road was completely closed and barriers were set up everywhere. There was a rally car race through downtown Buenos Aires TC2000, with the Obelisk as one turnaround point. People were everywhere trying to get a good look at the cars as they came wizzing past.

We followed the race through the streets trying to get our own good look. We ended up with a fairly good view and quickly realized that there were more interesting things to be seen. We found ourselves in a large square opposite the Casa Rosada, the government building where Evita made her famous speech rallying the people of Argentina. They light the building with an insane number of bright pink lights, hence the Casa Rosada or pink house. As it was just starting the get dark we were able to revel in all it’s glory.

As we were taking the requisite photos and remarking about the extreme pinkness, we heard a trumpet. Of course we were just in time for the ceremonial lowering of the flag in the square. Seven uniformed guards performed the ceremony and then marched into the Casa Rosada.

After this we meandered our way to Puerto Madero, or the port in Buenos Aires. There are several pricy restaurants overlooking the port, another three-masted tall ship, and some ice cream stores. The port itself is divided into 4 or 5 sections via bridges. The outer-most bridge, closest to the Buquebus dock, opens every hour by rotating the entire section of the road that runs across the water into a parallel configuration which allows boats to pass through. Even the Puente de la Mujer, a fashionable bridge in the middle of the port, seemed to be capable of rotating to allow boats to pass. The yacht club was located in the outer-most section of the port and looked fairly upscale.

At this point, we were hungry and went to find a place to eat some dinner. We finally settled on a touristy spot on one of the main streets. We easily ordered Milanesa de ternera napolitana with french fries for two. Milanesa is a common breading for meats and can be found covering chicken or beef. It can then be fried or baked. Napolitana is a topping that includes a cut of ham, cheese, tomatoes, and some tomato sauce.